The biologists from the MBO (McGill Banding Station) chose today to take part on their annual fund-raising event – the Baillie Birdathon – to raise funds to support their important research on bird migration and population studies.  Being green minded people they choose to do this by foot, walking the trails of the arboretum and trying to see as many birds as possible in the day, each species being sponsored by supporter’s and so the more we see the more money is raised.  How many?  A total of 62 species before noon.

What is your record number os birds seen in the arboretum in a day?  Come to that, seen in the arboretum ever?

Some of the birds we saw are shown below – all of them very easy to spot … especially the Cliff Swallows who are nesting under the radar tower by the entrance:

Indigo Bunting

Chestnut-sided Warbler

Cliff Swallows and their nests

The MBO Baillie Team for 2010 minus their photographer

And now for the Bobolinks.

We at the arboretum are very excited to have Boblinks around us – each year they nest (or try to – the hay cutting gives them big problems) in the fields immediately to the east that belong to the McGill Farm.  This morning there were at least a half dozen pairs on territory and they are not at all hard to spot – go and have a look … the filed just east of Pullins Pasture is the best place to start.

Even more exciting was to be able to see a Bobolink checking out the field beside the Conservation Centre.  There is no chance that they will nest there because there are simply too many people, cars and dogs around but it would make prime habitat for them if we were to all go gently and give them a wide berth.  The Bobolinks (read about them here) are in severe decline because of habitat loss which is why it is so important that we and the farm do all we can to ensure that they can thrive with us.

Recently, Bird Studies Canada issued this press release …

The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) has recommended that Bobolink be added to Canada’s list of species at risk.

Over 25% of the Bobolink’s breeding range is in Canada. It met COSEWIC’s criteria for Threatened status owing to significant population declines (88% since 1968) that are due to habitat loss and degradation, high levels of nest failure resulting from increasingly intensive agricultural operations, and threats faced on its wintering grounds in South America. A familiar species across eastern North America, the Bobolink joins a lengthy and growing list of other birds, plants, insects, and other wildlife that are designated as at risk and that depend on grassland habitats.

Jon McCracken, BSC’s Director of National Programs, co-chairs COSEWIC’s Birds Specialist Subcommittee. “The addition of a hitherto common species like the Bobolink is particularly worrisome, but perhaps should come as no great surprise. As with nearly every other grassland species in North America, the declines are widespread and severe.”